Monday, February 28, 2011

Word of the Week: Rest

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest” ~Ashleigh Brilliant

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~John Lubbock

“Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” ~Ralph Marston

Did you get enough rest this weekend? How does Monday feel when you do? Hope you have a great week!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feedback Friday is Blarney Balm

It's Feedback Friday! In case you're just joining us, Feedback Friday is when we feature one of our fragrances or flavors with an invitation to share your opinions below. If you haven't tried the featured product, we make it easier by offering a sample in your next order.

We're almost finished with February, and you know what that means: Got Green? St. Patrick's Day encourages us to wear green, and to me that means green lip balm. I make several, including Irish Lady, Margarita, and Appletini (don't worry: all are lightly tinted and won't leave green color on your lips). But my favorite St. Patrick's Day balm is Irish Cream Blarney Balm.

Several years ago my brother, a musician with routine gigs at Irish pubs, suggested that I really should make a lip balm for kissing the Blarney Stone. (Apparently it's really rough and uncomfortable to kiss the Blarney Stone). We determined that this balm should be pale green, it should have an Irish cream flavor, and its application would bestow the "gift of the gab" on the wearer. Of course this sounded like such blarney that the only fitting name was Blarney Balm.

Blarney Balm is available in jars or tubes, and can also be wrapped and decorated with bows and custom tags for your event. Be forewarned: Blarney Balm may lead to sweet talking, and we're pretty sure its shea and cocoa butters will leave your lips so smooth and soft you'll be confident enough to say, "Kiss me! I'm Irish!"

If you've tried Blarney Balm, we'd love to know what you think! Share your opinions (and please--no blarney) in the comments below. If you haven't tried it, we'll be including one in every order for the month of March.

Thank you for your interest!

You may be interested in these other Feedback Friday posts:Lemon Blueberry
Green Clover & Aloe
Apricot Freesia
Sweetini Spa
Lip Balm Tubes
Maine Woodland Berry
Coconut Twist
Pumpkin Pie
Sugar Cookie
Chocolate Truffle

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Here Comes The Sun: Protect Your Skin

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I loved the sun. I remember lying out in the sun with friends, timing ourselves to get even color on front and back. We were all aiming for that bronze glow, but my fair skin never really tanned. For me "color" was often freckles or burns; early in college I suffered several blistering sunburns, even on my face. Then I became a biology major and learned about melanoma: how UV exposure is a cause; how quickly it can spread to lymph nodes, brain, bone, liver; how fair-skinned people with a history of sunburns are at higher risk. Other forms of skin cancer are less deadly but more common, and almost all skin cancers can be attributed to sun exposure. I was scared enough to stop. Unfortunately, a lot of damage was already done.

As it turns out, I'm not alone. Licensed esthetician Kelley Maddison says, "The amount of sun damage I see is ridiculous!" With the days getting longer and warmer (and many escaping the February cold for sunnier places) I figured we could all use a reminder of the importance of sun protection. I've also noticed in recent months that there is so much confusion about sunscreen ingredients and so much controversy about Vitamin D deficiency that some might be tempted to abandon sunscreen use entirely. The American Academy of Dermatology, American Cancer Society, The Skin Cancer Foundation, and other organizations recommend the use of broad-spectrum sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer. But protecting your skin from UV exposure can improve the appearance of your skin, too.

A recent facial made me more aware of my own dark spots and fine lines, the lasting gifts from my unprotected sunning. Maddison notes that with sun damage, "the skin will lose its firmness quite significantly. Sagging skin and deep set wrinkles are caused by UV damage as the rays destroy collagen and elastin fibers within the skin. Also, the skin begins to take on a very leathery-like quality and the hue of the skin can change to deeper brown color. Hyperpigmentation (brown spots) also begins to appear and can be stubborn to get rid of. There are also skin conditions such as actinic keratosis which can show up--this is a precursor to certain skin cancers."

Moles can also be precursors to cancers, particularly what is known as atypical moles (or atypical nevi). People who have many of these moles have a higher chance of developing melanoma, and sun exposure can lead to the formation of new moles as well as leading to changes in atypical moles. A close friend of mine recently had several moles removed and biopsied; this process required stitches and may result in scarring. Reducing sun exposure can minimize this damage.

So what else should we be doing to protect our skin?

"I tell my clients to start protecting their skin from any further damage by using a physical sunblock of SPF30," Maddison recommends. When choosing your sunscreen, you may hear about ingredients that offer chemical protection (think avobenzone and oxybenzone) or physical sunscreen ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which reflect UV. There are pros and cons to each of these types of sunscreens. "I don't care for chemical sunscreens," Maddison says. "Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's rays. The heat from these rays can actually make hyperpigmentation worse. I prefer a physical block (one that contains zinc and titanium). Also, clients with sensitive skin and rosacea can't tolerate chemical sunscreens." Whichever you choose (many brands contain both physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients), you'll want to select a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. The Mayo Clinic offers an online review of sunscreen options with information to help you choose.

Once you've chosen your sunscreen, you need to use it. Use it daily, use it even on cloudy days and in the winter, and reapply frequently. You'll also want to avoid the sun when it's most intense, usually between 10 am and 2 pm, and cover up with hats and long sleeves or seek shade for even more protection. What about vitamin D; aren't we in danger of vitamin D deficiency unless we spend time in the sun? The Skin Cancer Foundation "cautions the public against intentional exposure to natural sunlight or artificial UV radiation (tanning beds) as a means of obtaining vitamin D, since the health risks of UV exposure — including skin cancer and premature skin aging — are significant and well proven." They recommend getting your 600 IU per day of vitamin D through dietary sources.

For those of us already dealing with the unattractive side effects of sun damage, there is help available. "Once clients begin protecting their skin from further damage, I can address how to correct the damage they already have through treatments such as chemical peels, LED, microdermabrasion and microcurrent," Maddison says. "I also recommend a good home care protocol which usually includes things like retinol, skin lighteners/brighteners, AHA's & BHA's, peptides, stem cells, etc. I make sure the client understands that undoing the damage will take time and that they need to be consistent and compliant in order to achieve desired results." Your esthetician can develop a personalized plan for you to reduce the appearance of dark blotches and fine lines. If you have other signs of sun damage, such as atypical moles or blemishes that are growing, that bleed, or won't heal, consult your dermatologist.

And what about that elusive glow? Isn't there a safer way? Yes, Maddison says. "Clients can get spray tanning done and use OTC products like powder bronzers and self-tanners. There's no reason anyone should be baking themselves in the sun OR laying in tanning beds when healthy options are available to them."

As the sun returns this spring (or you head south to find it) I hope you'll remember to protect your skin!

I want to thank Kelley Maddison, L.E., for her expert advice and for the use of the last three photos above, which show sun damage under a skin scanner as well as the effects of severe sun damage.

Maddison is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist specializing in the treatment of problematic skin types, and she holds an additional Level 1 certification in the field of medical esthetics. She's also the owner and formulator at PRIIA Cosmetics, offers treatments at her skin care spa, Esthetically Yourz, and shares skincare and makeup advice as The Mineral Makeup Coach. You can also follow Kelley Maddison on Twitter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't Call You Stupid

If you've seen A Fish Called Wanda, you know Otto. Kevin Kline won an Oscar for playing the American weapons "expert" brought in for a British diamond heist. Otto quotes Nietzsche and fancies himself an intellectual, but his impulsive, emotional actions compromise their plans time and again. When others criticize him, he interrupts by saying: "Don't call me stupid."

I don't like being called stupid or feeling stupid, either. To be honest, I really don't like that word but I've been hearing it a lot lately. Here's what happens: my phone rings, I answer it, and someone says, "I'm interested in your such-and-such product. This is probably a stupid question, but [insert entirely appropriate, intelligent question here]..." This opening statement is repeated in emails, too. "I'm sure this is a stupid question," the writer begins. I find it so puzzling!

Small businesses (like mine) spend a lot of time talking about themselves and their products. It's up to me to teach people about what I'm offering, so I'm on Facebook and Twitter nearly every day to share information and answer questions. To those of you who have called (or emailed) to ask questions, I simply say: You had me at "I am interested." You have no idea how excited I am by those words! And you need to know that there is no such thing as a "stupid" question to me.

So whatever you do, don't call YOU stupid! And make sure that if you have a question, no matter what it is, you call to ask! I'd love to talk with you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adding New Flavors

A couple of weeks ago I shared with everyone over at the Facebook page that I can make custom lip balm flavors. I asked, "If you got to have your very own flavor, what would it be?" I got some great suggestions—a few of which I actually have made and some that are even in stock, but many other flavor ideas that sounded delish! Here were some of the favorites:

coffee (I have made a Mudslide lip balm with coffee flavor, and a Pumpkin Latte as a seasonal balm...I think there's one left at 50% off.)cinnamon (This would be our Red Hot lip balm.)cherry coconutpomegranate/vanilla/orange
cherry vanilla (which is Cherub Kisses...we have a few more in stock, too!)Vermont maple syrup
toasted almond
sugar plum - a seasonal flavor, but currently out of stock.
Yesterday afternoon I asked for Birthday Flavor suggestions. What would be YOUR Ultimate Birthday Lip Balm Flavor? This time there were even more comments, with some fantabulous suggestions (some hilariously un-lip balm friendly, such as Jessica's Eggroll or Crab Rangoon!). Here we go:

Red Velvet
Peanut butter/chocolate
Strawberry Shortcake
Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting
Hot fudge sundae
buttercream frosting (Our birthday cake balm is vanilla cake with buttercream frosting. Wedding cake has a similar flavor.)
Italian Cream Cake (vanilla cake with pecans and coconut...yum)
German Chocolate
Yellow cake with butter frosting (I think birthday cake would be the closest balm to this)coffee cakepraline pecanspice apple butter
caramel mocha
apricot maple
lemon tart (I make a Lemon Drop balm that's sweet and tart like the candy...or cocktail)
coconut cream
spice cake
lemon cakecoconut cake
chocolate cherry
lemon, orange, lime sherbet (layered)
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Brainstorming flavor ideas is so much fun, but of course there's a lot more involved with adding a new flavor to my product line. Even if it's a Limited Edition or a custom one-time flavor, I generally:

- make tiny batches of each new balm, adding flavor oils by the drop until I have the blend just right. I can choose from dozens of flavors in my lab, but sometimes I need to special order new ones for a custom lip balm flavor.
- Once I have the flavor "recipe" figured out, I have to design a label (or often two labels—one for a jar and one for a tube balm).
- Part of creating labels is taking pictures, and that means buying (or baking) goodies, mixing up "cocktails" or other beverages (here's a secret: they're always non-alcoholic), or visiting the candy store for scrumptious props. Want to read about how I tortured my children with cupcakes trying to get one perfect picture for a label? Yes, sometimes it takes days to get that picture the way I want it. (And now that I'm looking at this photo again, it may be time to make more cupcakes...) You see why this takes me so long!!

- Each new flavor is tested on human volunteers (and sometimes their kids and very occasionally even their dogs, though this is never intentional and has never resulted in anything worse than minty fresh dog lips! Or Fuzzy Navel flavored pooch kisses! Honest!). If it passes, it's photographed and added to the website.

Thanks to my friends on Facebook, I have lots of new ideas for flavors and I'll be trying some in the coming months. If you ever have an idea for a new flavor, please share it here or over on our Facebook page. What do you think? What would your Ultimate Birthday Lip Balm taste like?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and Chocolate

"All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!"

~ Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Waffles

Just in time for Valentine's Day this year, I found a heart-shaped waffle iron. I warmed it up this morning to try out one of my favorite waffle recipes. This one is just perfect for Valentine's Day because each bite of waffle has the beautiful bright pink of raspberries and delicious melted semisweet chocolate (I stole some Valentine chocolates and chopped them up, but chocolate morsels are good, too)!

2 eggs
1 cup milk (plus about 2 tablespoons more for a thinner consistency)
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chocolate bits
handful of frozen raspberries, crumbled

Preheat waffle iron. Whisk eggs, milk and oil in large bowl, then mix in dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate and raspberries, then bake in waffle iron as directed by manufacturer.

We topped with maple syrup, but fruit or fruit syrups would be delicious and also perfect colors for Valentine's Day! Of course you can also add butter, whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce...whatever you prefer!

How do you like your waffles?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three Last-Minute Valentines

Procrastinating Moms of the World, unite! If you're like me, you'll be spending at least part of this weekend baking (or shopping) for Monday's Valentine's Day parties, and helping kids to assemble their cards. Of course, the cards must include candy, and of course we get "bonus" points if they're crafty. So here are three ways to make Valentine's Day cards with candy "pockets" (and if you scrap or do anything crafty, you already have everything you need).

I used card stock, patterned papers, ribbon scraps, twine, a hole punch, white glue, and decorative scissors. Oh, and I used these Valentine patterns (which is a PDF you are free to print and use, but not to resell). The finished Valentines end up being about 5 1/2" wide and 5" tall, but if you'd like to make them smaller you may want to scale down the PDF when you go to print it.

Print the patterns onto card stock and cut them out to use as templates. For the Lace-Up Valentine, cut out pattern pieces A and C (I cut out both in card stock). Place pattern C over A, lining up the points at the bottom of the heart, and use your hole punch to make holes around the sides about every 1/2". Punch through both layers along the outside edge, then pull the top piece (C) off and punch holes along the middle (this is where the bow will be tied). Piece C will have holes punched all around the outside edge.

Cut a piece of ribbon or twine (I used Caribbean twine from The Twinery) and begin threading through the holes starting in the middle of piece C. When you reach the outside edge of the heart, place piece A beneath and continue to thread in and out through both sets of punched holes, stitching them together. Work your way around the heart's point and back up to the front edge, then thread across to meet the other end of the twine and tie a bow. Snip the extra twine and you're done!

The Two Hearts Valentine is even easier. Cut out a large heart (Pattern A) in card stock and a small heart (Pattern B) in a patterned paper. Add whatever embellishments you'd like to the small heart (I punched two holes near the top, slipped a ribbon through and tied a bow), then put a bead of white glue along the edge, leaving the top open to tuck in the candy. Center the tiny heart on the larger one and glue it, then use a pair of decorative scissors to deckle the outer edges of the Valentine.

The Frilly Valentine uses the same pattern pieces as the lace-up, with Pattern A cut out of card stock and C cut from a decorative paper. Before you assemble, use your deckle scissors or a decorative punch tool to decorate the top edge of Pattern piece C. Then glue all around the outside edges, leaving the center open to tuck in your goodies. Decorate the top of the Valentine with a bow or flower and you're done!

Now all that's left is to address them (you can add the To and From to the front or to the back side of each Valentine) and tuck in candy, lollipops, stickers, or whatever other surprises you'd like.

These are very simple ideas, but I'm sure you can think of lots more creative ways to decorate and embellish these last-minute Valentines! Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

"Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew," Samwise Gamgee said. (I apologize to all of you who aren't Lord of the Rings fans.) Of course he was talking about potatoes. Potatoes have gotten a bad rap in recent years, especially with those who are trying to lose weight. The perception is that potatoes are fattening, but this depends so much on how they are prepared.

Potatoes are low in saturated fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. They are great sources of Vitamins C and B6 as well as Manganese, and each medium potato has twice as much Potassium as a banana. If you eat the peels, they also have quite a lot of fiber; they're good sources of quality protein, too. For all of these reasons (and because they are super tasty) I eat lots of potatoes.

While I do like them boiled, mashed, and in stews, I enjoy coming up with new ways to eat potatoes. These Twice Baked Potatoes have lots of flavor without all of the fat in traditional "stuffed" potatoes. Here's what you need:

3 or 4 medium potatoes, baked
1/2 to 3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
2-3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated part skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed and chopped into tiny pieces
black pepper to taste
herbs of choice (optional; oregano, thyme, basil, whatever you like)

Prepare potatoes for baking by washing skins well, then piercing them in several places with a fork. Bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the skins are crisp and the inside is tender. Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them comfortably, then slice each in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside. Leave about 1/4" of potato just inside the skin so they hold their shape. (My son helped with this part by scooping with a melon baller.)

Mash the scooped-out potato, then add the cottage cheese and mash again (if you prefer a smoother potato filling, you can use a mixer and add a bit of milk, but don't over mix or it can become gummy). Stir in 2 Tbsp of the parmesan cheese, black pepper, and the broccoli florets. Scoop the filling back into the empty potato skins, top with the remaining grated parmesan and mozzarella or cheddar cheeses, sprinkle with herbs of choice, and bake again at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.

When I prepare my own, I sprinkle with the smallest amount of cheese possible...just enough for that pretty brown top. I've also made them with sauteed onion and garlic mixed with the broccoli. You could also mash steamed cauliflower into the potato. My husband loves them with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese. There are so many great combinations of veggies and toppings to try!

What would you put in your potatoes?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

7 Tips To Be Fit at 40

Today I am 40. Can I also be fit? What does fitness mean, and how hard is it to get fit (and stay that way) at 40?

For the past week I've been tweeting daily fitness, health, and diet tips on Twitter (using the hashtag #fitand40). I introduced the idea on February 1:

"GCDSpa has one more week to be 39, and I've decided this is the year: I'm gonna be !! For the next 7 days I'm tweeting tips."

That week of tweets pretty much exhausted my bag of tricks. Since most of you probably don't follow me on Twitter, you haven't been able to share your own tips about fitness, diet, and health with me. So I'm posting all of my tweets here, along with some extras that didn't fit in my 140 character tweets. I hope you'll share what you know, too, because I need all the help I can get!

Tip 1: The first thing I'm doing to be is joining the Small Plate Movement! Portion control made simple.

This tip may look overly simple, but it's based on studies that show how the size of a plate determines how much food people serve themselves. Smaller plates = smaller portions, which leads to fewer calories and as much as 18 pounds lost over the course of a year. I've found that if I use a smaller plate it feels like I'm eating more, simply because the plate looks full. Simple but effective.

Tip 2: I'm working out at different times to see what works best for me to be #fitand40. Info on best time to workout.

In the past few years I have made an effort to exercise every day. Sometimes I work out in the morning (super because you can check it off the list first thing); other times I work out in the evening, right before dinner (also great because you get a burst of energy for evening work). My current favorite is noontime, just before lunch. I find that I need a break in the middle of the day, and my muscles are warmed up enough that I can push myself a little harder than I can in the morning.

There's lots of research about the best time of day to exercise, but according to this article, there is no significant difference in the amount of muscle gain and strength between men working out in the morning vs. the night. The conclusion: consistent exercise is what's important, so schedule it when you are most likely to keep doing it.

Tip 3: Today's tip is just what I need since working out makes me FAMISHED: eat frequent, smaller meals through the day.

I also shared that Teri at tweeted a blog post about this very subject: eat 5 times per day to lose weight. Basically eating more frequently keeps your metabolism going, as well as preventing those diet-busting cravings by keeping your blood sugar stable. The post also talks about what and when to eat to get the most fat-burning benefit. I like that there's real science to back up my favorite way to eat, which is constantly!

Tip 4: Set concrete fitness/health goals. Saying that I want to "Get fit" isn't enough. I need to be more specific!

I've started thinking of fitness the same way I think about lots of other things: if I want to see results and improvement, I have to set goals for myself. I'm still working on this part. Right now my goal is to exercise daily, increasing my time and the intensity of the workouts gradually. My goal for diet is to stop eating so much chocolate! That's all I've got right now. I know, I know, I'm working on it! I think I'll be revisiting this in future posts.

Tip 5: Push yourself to try new things & mix it up. Get off the treadmill and take a Pilates or yoga class.

Several years ago I took a few Pilates classes and noticed a huge change in my fitness. Walking on the treadmill or running outside were great, but adding in exercises to strengthen core muscles made a big difference to me.

I asked Maurine Joy, a Certified Power Pilates Trainer and a member of Pilates Method Alliance, what she would recommend for Pilates books or DVDs for beginners:
"If you're just starting a new workout regimen I have a few recommendations. For seniors who want to tiptoe into this I recommend "A Morning Cup of Pilates," a '15 minute routine to invigorate the body, mind, and spirit.' (This book includes an audio CD.) When I need to get a Pilates workout and don't have much time, I pull out my "15 minute Everyday Pilates" by Alycea Ungaro P.T. It includes four -15 minute workouts (also available as podcasts). This book includes a fun invigorating workout DVD. Each DVD workout is displayed in the book in detail. This book gets 5 stars in my library of workout DVDs."

Tip 6 is that it's NEVER too late to fit in some physical activity, even if it's stretches or crunches. Keep a mat by the TV!

Sometimes I don't find the time to exercise until the evening, but even if it seems late I still try to fit something in. I have found that exercise wakes me up, and since I frequently work late, I often choose to do part of my daily exercise at night to help me stay alert a bit later. Even a few crunches or squats make a difference if you do them every day. Keep that mat handy!

Tip 7: Substitute low fat foods for butter or sour cream. Use low fat yogurt on baked potato. Replace 1/2 butter w/applesauce when baking.

This definitely deserves its own post at a later date. Due to some dietary restrictions, I've had to modify many recipes to reduce the fat content. I've found lots of stand-ins: For example, the part of sour cream is now played by fat-free yogurt in my house. (It's delicious on baked potatoes, nachos, or stirred into soups.) When I bake cookies, I replace half of the shortening with applesauce, pumpkin or squash puree. My kids don't feel deprived, and it's also a great way to sneak extra veggies and fruits into them!

Bonus Tip: Be kind to yourself. I'm determined to push myself harder this year to achieve a higher level of fitness, but I also think it's important to take a break every now and then. I'll be doing that today by eating cupcakes and taking a trip to the spa! What do you do when you need to be kind to yourself? And what are your tips to help me get (and stay) fit at 40? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Word of the Week: Yours

This morning I read an article about wedding trends. It talks about how Kate Middleton's wedding to Prince William now has brides-to-be all over the world asking for royal weddings. According to the article, "The trends have shifted from modern to traditional. Softer, elegant details are being featured in many weddings. Exquisite fabric and couture elements will be witnessed at many of this year's weddings." All of this is presumably a direct result of the impending royal nuptials.

Last month everyone was talking about Pantone's color of the year for 2011. Honeysuckle is "A brave new color, for a brave new world." It's a bright, deep Barbie pink. A gorgeous color, to be sure, though whether this color displayed in everything from drapes to purses will "lift our spirits" remains to be seen. What is clear is that it will likely move from runways to bridal shops and influence wedding planning for months to come.

I don't see anything wrong with any of this, of course, unless your style ISN'T "soft and elegant" and your color isn't honeysuckle. I hear so many wedding planners and vendors tell brides that they want to help them create their dream, to express who they really are. (I've said similar things, myself.) But if you're modeling Kate Middleton's dress or hairstyle or colors, whose dream is it? Are you expressing yourself, or copying someone else? Does it matter?

2011 might be The Year of Honeysuckle, but your wedding day is The Day of You. It's yours to express who you are, to wear what you like and surround yourself with the style and colors that make you comfortable and happy. Maybe that will be bright pink, but if you prefer turquoise, go for it! (You'll only be a year behind fashion, anyway.) If your soft and elegant style is "so Kate," so be it. Your dress may even look exactly like Kate's. But what if it doesn't? Follow or buck the trends, but do it as YOU please and your choices really are an expression of you. After all, the day is yours: own it!

What do you think? Do you follow the trends or ignore them?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Have Spa, Will Travel: An Interview with I Do Spas

A couple of months ago I heard about this unique business here in Maine. I Do Spas is Maine's first mobile day spa. Instead of going to a salon on your wedding day—or taking a group of gals to the spa for your bachelorette party or bridal shower—I Do Spas owner Jody Newman and her team of professionals will come to you! I thought this was such a brilliant idea that I couldn't wait to find out more about Jody and her business. I discovered that she is an inspiring example of ingenuity and persistence. Jody was kind enough to agree to share her story with me so I could share it with you!

What's your background and what led you to start I Do Spas?
I am a nail technician, and also have my art degree and design & marketing degree. This has helped me to create all of our advertising material and design of our web site. I was the lead nail technician at the Senator Inn & Spa in Augusta, Maine for a few years and while there we did some bachelorette parties and wedding hair. But everyone was in different rooms and they all seemed to want to have more of their family and friends with them, which we could not accommodate due to availability of staff and size of rooms.

So I did some research to see about traveling spas in Maine and there was no one doing it. I did a broader search in the United States and found a company out west that had been doing the traveling spa part but not wedding day services. So I put a staff, equipment, and products together, and did a mock spa party at a friend's house. The event was such a big success and hit that when I went back into work the next day I gave my notice. The start of I Do Spas was launched.

What are some of the benefits of a traveling spa?
There are a lot of benefits to a traveling spa, such as families that are traveling from out of state that get to all stay together at the vacation location and have their services come right to them. The bridal party does not have to spend the whole day at a salon not knowing if they are going to be on time for the wedding. We create a relaxing atmosphere and the brides and bridesmaids are relaxed and enjoy the services. We also provide on-site spa services for a lot of bachelorette parties, girl's nights in, birthday parties, employee incentive days, the list goes on. This is a much better choice than going out to the bars for bridal parties: they all get to have spa treatments, relax with our lush robes and slippers while having a few drinks, great food, and wonderful company.

How do you select your bridal hair and makeup professionals?
The stylists and makeup artists that I Do Spas hires must have a portfolio to be granted an interview. Once that has been established, an interview along with a trial hair and makeup is performed on a model. Once that is passed, they then go out on an event with supervision, and then they are booked for our future weddings.

I see that you offer lots of services—massages, facials, manicures, bridal up-dos, make-up, pedicures—what is your most popular service?
It is hard to say what our most popular service is. For wedding days it would be hair and makeup. For spa parties all services are very popular.

Do you have any plans for new services or expansion in the coming months?
We do not have any plans for new services in the near future. Because of the quality of services we offer we have something for everyone. That is not to say that we would not offer new services in the future if there is a demand. We are always looking to improve and grow.

What do you see as the current trends in your field?
I believe that brides are looking for ways to improve on their special day and to take away any undue stress. Also convenience is a current trend and I Do Spas addresses that trend and will continue to do so.

What's your favorite thing about working with brides-to-be?
One of my favorite things about working with brides-to-be is that offering these new on-site services for them takes all the worry away from them. It's a great feeling being able to make their special day go smoothly and seeing how happy they are. The brides are also relieved to see how happy their bridesmaids and family are. It's such a great feeling for them and creates wonderful memories.

Okay, time to brag! I noticed that you were a Best of Wedding Winner in 2011 at The Knot—the Top Maine Wedding Vendor for makeup artists and hair stylists! Congratulations!! Do you have any other recent accomplishments you'd like to share with us?
We were in January's Down East Magazine as one of their 24 reasons to get married in Maine. We were also chosen by Real Maine Weddings Magazine as top spa to partner with for Maine's Wedding Of The Year 2011. I Do Spas made the 2011 HOT LIST. The Hot List is made up of wedding professionals that received the top reviews on

I Do Spas was also responsible for the new law in 2009 allowing in-home spa services.

Wait, what do you mean you were responsible for a law?
Initially we were only allowed to do on-site spa treatments in hotels, B&B's, motels, camps, and jails, but not in private homes. So I called my area rep and I wrote a new law which he introduced. We had hearings and then finally a vote was taken and passed. It took a little over a year for the whole process, but it was well worth it.

Wow! Way to overcome obstacles to achieve your goals! Very inspiring!

How can people get in touch with you to book your services?

There are many ways to book services with us. Call me at 207-441-0008, email at, we have a form on our web site, and our Facebook page. All of these contacts are usually checked at least 3 times a day, so I always get back to the inquiries that day or the next morning.

Thanks so much, Jody! If you'd like to see more of I Do Spas and keep up with Jody, you can see their videos online at Facebook and YouTube. I Do Spas is also on Twitter and they have a blog, too!


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